Two years after sacking disgraced former Minister Konrad Mizzi from Labour’s parliamentary group over a raft of alleged abuses and corruption, Prime Minister Robert Abela is still paying his father, Lawrence, to act as chairman of a government entity dealing with redundant Air Malta employees.
The Shift is informed that following the last general elections, Abela dictated that the State entity Resources Support and Services Ltd (RSSL) be transferred directly to his portfolio at the OPM from the finance ministry.
At the same time, he gave orders for Konrad Mizzi’s father to remain chairman of the company, “at least for the time being”.
OPM sources told The Shift that despite Lawrence Mizzi being 70 years old, “the PM would like to use his services in a very delicate situation as he knows that most of the employees are to be made redundant, and this can facilitate the process”.
The prime minister himself was the lawyer on an agreement reached with Air Malta pilots that also failed when he the government’s legal consultant.
Lawrence Mizzi spent most of his working life at Air Malta and is familiar with most of the 577 workers who applied for an alternative job with the government and are now being told to forget this agreement and take a golden handshake instead.
Established in 2003, RSSL Ltd is a fully-owned government company established to manage redundant employees from other government entities such as the former employees of Kalaxlokk and Malta Drydocks.
The company has been tasked with handling redundant Air Malta employees for past restructuring exercises, which have all failed.
While putting these employees on its books, RSSL then distributed them to other government entities and authorities, as well as local councils and NGOs.
There is no actual work for these employees on the state’s payroll. Most are given odd, unproductive jobs.
The Shift has this week revealed that the government is renouncing its pre-election commitment to Air Malta employees who were guaranteed a government job if they agree to a Voluntary Employment Transfer Scheme pushed before the general elections in March.
After receiving 577 applications, Finance Minister Caruana is having second thoughts, suddenly changing the rules of the scheme into a golden handshake to terminate employment. Staff who spoke to The Shift felt they had been “betrayed” by the Labour Party in a push to get votes before the general elections, insisting that the agreement they signed with the government must be respected.
The General Workers Union, which represents most of the employees at Air Malta, has so far not informed its members of the latest government manoeuvres.
So far, only a handful of employees closely connected to ministers or the Labour Party have been given another government job. All those who signed up for the recent scheme were promised government jobs for life with the same financial package they had with the airline.
This has caused problems since some Air Malta employees have packages that are higher than equivalent grades in the public service.